In order to promote the social participation of people with a visual impairment, it is essential to have a good picture of their visual functioning. Conventional ophthalmic tests (for example for the field of vision) can determine the severity of a defect, but often do not give a definite answer about what someone else can do with his or her vision. In the research led by UMCG professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences Frans Cornelissen, ten institutes from five different countries will be working together to train new researchers who will develop accurate and intuitive tests of functional vision. They will apply these in ophthalmology, pediatric oncology, visual rehabilitation and testing paralympic athletes. Are you an aspiring translational vision scientist? Stay tuned for information on when we will start recruiting.
Our official abstract: OptiVisT’s key mission is to enhance the societal participation of individuals with vision impairment through innovative and inclusive care. To achieve this, we need new knowledge as well as new, innovative tests to assess functional visual abilities, and develop tools to train and augment them. We thus need Translational Vision Scientists, with expertise in vision science, technology and healthcare. Such scientists are in great demand, but scarce, because there is as yet no specialist training program.
OptiVisT arose from the realization that we can only meet this need by joining forces across Europe and integrating our pioneering efforts. We will train 15 early stage researchers (ESRs) to become the pivotal next generation of specialists in Translational Vision Science, ready to take on leading positions to the benefit of healthcare, industry and science. Our consortium offers all the essential components to nurture this new generation of cutting-edge scientists: they will learn how to quantify the visual demands of activities of daily living and to use their new insights to design objective, effective and easy-to-use tests and tools of functional vision. These must also be of an inclusive nature so that also vulnerable people with vision impairment can use them. Experts in the application, evaluation and valorization of solutions will ensure that our ESRs also know how to make their new tests and tools succeed in the real world. Thus, we will equip the ESRs with a unique portfolio of skills and competences, well-balanced for both academic and non-academic careers. Their skills are urgently needed to remove the roadblocks that presently limit progress in the translational vision field. Our innovative research program will guarantee that ESRs can make a real difference to the lives of the millions of people with vision impairment in Europe, by improving their opportunities to work, play sports, and participate in wider society, to their fullest potential.